Mental Health Assessment


Mental Health Evaluation & Diagnosis

Mercy offers comprehensive mental health evaluation & screening services for all patients. Even though one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness during their lifetime, many people don’t get treatment. Often, this is because their mental health conditions go undiagnosed. It can be difficult to know if you or a loved one is just feeling moody or if there’s a more serious problem.

What is a Mental Health Assessment?

A mental health assessment can help you identify disorders and can connect you with mental health providers who can give you the care you need. Mercy provides mental health diagnostic services for people of all ages, including older adults and children.

When is a Mental Health Assessment Needed?

We believe that regular behavioral health screening in primary care can help diagnose problems early on. Our purpose is to connect you with appropriate care, either virtually or in your community, so you can get back to living your best life. Each mental health condition has specific signs and symptoms, however, some common symptoms that lead to screening include the following.

  • Sleep changes – sleeping more or less than usual, or having difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Mood changes – feeling a long-lasting sadness or low mood, or noticing bouts of extremely high and low moods
  • Anxiety – excessive worrying or fear
  • Confusion – difficulty concentrating or taking in new information
  • Apathy – losing interest in activities that usually bring you joy

Types of Mental Health Assessments

Some mental health assessment tools are geared toward adults 60 years and over and might be administered during a Medicare health risk assessment. Geriatric cognitive assessment tools are used to identify individuals who may need additional evaluation to detect cognitive impairment. Interviews or surveys of family members or friends may also be used to help identify individuals in need of mental health care.


  • Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) - The GDS is used to identify depression in older adults. This tool is used with healthy, medically ill, or mild to moderately cognitively impaired adults.
  • General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG) - GPCOG is a screening tool for cognitive impairment designed for use in primary care settings.
  • Mini-Cog - This is a 3-minute memory recall test and a scored clock-drawing test. Results are evaluated by a health provider to determine if a full-diagnostic assessment is needed.
  • 8-item Informant Interview to Differentiate Aging and Dementia (AD8) - AD8 is an eight-question interview used to distinguish between normal signs of aging and mild dementia.
  • Short Informant Questionnaire on Cognitive Decline in the Elderly (IQCODE) - This screening tool is a questionnaire designed to assess cognitive decline and dementia.

Mercy also offers mental health assessments for children. Often these evaluations are completed by a teacher or parent. The most commonly used child assessment tools for mental health are the Vineland Adaptive Behavior and Vanderbilt Assessment Scales.


Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales


This test measures how your child’s skills compare to those of other kids his or her age, looking at your child’s ability to function each day. It’s helpful for diagnosing and classifying certain disorders like autism and developmental delays. It also assesses if your child is falling behind his or her peers and/or if there’s a reason for concern.


Vanderbilt Assessment Scales


This test may be given after a more general assessment suggests that your child shows signs of ADHD. It helps assess the severity of ADHD symptoms and other common behavioral concerns that may affect everyday life and schoolwork.


There are additional testing and diagnostic tools used to help identify childhood behavioral disorders. Your Mercy mental health provider can help determine which makes the most sense for your child.

We want to make sure that your treatment is specific to your needs, so your mental health evaluation will include several steps. Evaluations typically consist of a written questionnaire, interview questions, lab tests and physical examination. Commonly used tools of diagnosis for mental disorders we use include:

  • Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) - the most common screening tool to identify depression
  • Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) - used to assess suicide risk
  • GAD7 - a screening tool and symptom severity measure for the four most common anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social phobia(s) and post-traumatic stress disorder)

What to Expect During Your Psychiatric Evaluation

During your psychiatric evaluation, your physician may ask you to talk about your symptoms, how they affect your life and how long you’ve had them. You might discuss your family’s mental health history and your personal life – your relationships, what your childhood was like and if you’ve had any major traumas or losses in your past.

You’ll also be asked about your general health history, your current medications and any drug and alcohol use. Because some physical conditions such as thyroid disorders can present similar symptoms to mental disorders, your physician may recommend blood work or another test.

The initial screening may be followed by additional, more specific testing. These assessments are typically done in a behavioral health clinic to properly diagnose and treat the condition. Mercy behavioral health experts can perform necessary assessments. The goal is to provide an accurate diagnosis of your condition and to determine the best treatment plan.